Non-citizens Complain That the Republican Governor of Maine is Denying Them Social Services

Non-citizens Complain That the Republican Governor of Maine is Denying Them Social Services

The United States is the only country in the world where illegal immigrants expect the government to hand them benefits… and citizens vilify politicians who attempt to save benefits for hard-working citizens. The Governor of Maine is under fire for doing just that.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, right, holds a box full of more than 600 postcards from Mainers across the state, asking her and other lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee not to accept proposals by Gov. Paul LePage that would make many immigrants ineligible for various government assistance programs.

Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, right, holds a box full of more than 600 postcards from Mainers across the state, asking her and other lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee not to accept proposals by Gov. Paul LePage that would make many immigrants ineligible for various government assistance programs.

Lawmakers on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee are expected to vote soon on whether to accept provisions in Gov. Paul LePage’s two-year budget proposal that would make many non-citizens ineligible for food and cash assistance programs and Supplemental Security Income benefits.

The governor has said the move is meant to preserve state government’s resources for needy Mainers, rather than those he describes as illegal aliens. But those cut off from aid would include not only undocumented immigrants, but people legally seeking asylum in Maine.

Kathy Kilrain del Rio of the Maine Women’s Lobby — one of the more than three dozen groups associated with the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition — said Thursday that the state would only save $3.9 million per year by making immigrants ineligible.

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That’s less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the entire two-year budget, which totals roughly $6.6 billion. But Kilrain del Rio said the money is an investment Maine must make.

“This is an investment in Maine’s future, and will truly pay dividends in Maine’s economy,” she said.

Djima Ainan is an asylee from Djibouti who lives in Lewiston with her two young children. She currently has a job at a call center, attends school at Central Maine Community College and volunteers as an interpreter.

While waiting for her application for asylum to be processed by the federal government — a process that can take years — she was legally allowed to stay in Maine, but was barred from working and relied on cash aid from the General Assistance program.

“When I think of what I have accomplished, I am proud,” Ainan said. “My family is safe and happy, and I know I have General Assistance to thank for helping me get on my feet.”

“There are many others like me,” she said, who would not be eligible for either work or state aid if LePage’s reforms are approved.

The governor would change state eligibility rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known commonly as “food stamps,” and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to match more restrictive federal ones.

Maine is one of only five states that provide food benefits to immigrants not eligible under federal rules, and one of only 19 states that provide TANF benefits, according to DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew.

It’s difficult to understand the sense of entitlement to federal funding – otherwise known as the taxpayers’ money – these immigrants and their advocates possess. For those who are here seeking asylum, there are charitable groups who can assist with food and shelter while they wait for their paperwork to be processed.

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